The USF volleyball team travels to Atlanta for the Georgia Tech Invitational this weekend while struggling to find its identity and productivity after starting the season 5-6.
That effort was further diminished Tuesday in the Bulls’ 3-0 loss to Florida A&M with a sub-par performance and an injury to starter Kelsi Andrew-Wasylik.
The Bulls connected on four percent hitting and tallied 5 1/2 blocks, while setter Melayne Wootan delivered 24 assists for an average of eight a game, below her usual 11.85.
Some of the Bulls’ troubles were due to the loss of libero (a primary back- line player) Andrew-Wasylik.
Andrew-Wasylik injured her elbow on a dive after the ball in the first game against the Rattlers. USF coach Nancy Mueller would not comment on the specifics of the injury but said Andrew-Wasylik will not see any playing time this weekend.
With the loss of a back-line player the Bulls may not play with a libero, instead counting on front- line players to help out more in the back.
“You’ll see the same people in the front row, they are just going to have added responsibility in the back row,” Mueller said. “(The way defense is) even if you’re in the wrong spot, you can make an effort for the ball.”
With only eight players available for the Bulls, players will need to move around to accommodate for the loss of Andrew-Wasylik.
“People will be playing positions that they haven’t trained a whole lot in,” Mueller said. “But everybody knows our system.”
USF started the season with eight players, but recently added freshman walk-on Kate McCosh before Tuesday’s game against the Rattlers.
McCosh will provide the Bulls with a backup setter, while seeing some time as a defensive specialist.
“We were just waiting on some NCAA stuff for Kate to get cleared,” Mueller said. “She’s officially on the team now. She’s been with us about a week just practicing with us.”
The Bulls will have to refine several items from their match against Florida A&M to compete this weekend.
Friday, the Bulls face Western Carolina (7-3) for the first time since 1983, and they hope to help Mueller pick up her 100th win.
USF will play No. 24 Wisconsin (6-2) in Saturday’s early game before facing No. 8 Georgia Tech, which has yet to lose a match (8-0).
“(Since the Florida A&M match), we worked a lot on some individual stuff,” Mueller said. “Middles did some swing work, and we worked with our setting and passing and first ball kills, and to be more efficient with our hitting.”
The Bulls, who defeated the Yellow Jackets 3-2 in a match at the Corral last season, are not looking ahead to their toughest competition.
“We’re going to take it one game at a time,” Mueller said. “That’s kind of our focus now. We start out with Western Carolina, once that’s over, we see Wisconsin, and then what Georgia Tech looks like.”